Iwi consider creating their own council

TARYN UTIGER
Last updated 05:00 06/05/2014
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Taranaki iwi may move to set up their own council after having the door slammed by the New Plymouth District Council.

The move, which has the support of the Human Rights Commission, comes three weeks after councillors said no to iwi representation with full voting rights.

Peter Moeahu, of Te Atiawa, was in Wellington last week and spoke with a representative from the Human Rights Commission about the controversial issue.

"With the resources iwi have at their fingertips, council need them more than they need council," Moeahu said.

The Human Rights Commission recommended the five North Taranaki iwi join forces and set up their own council or board instead of joining the New Plymouth District Council, Moeahu said.

"There are five iwi who hold mana whenua status over the New Plymouth district and I shall be proposing they consider establishing their own paepae rangatira," Moeahu said.

"Then the council can make submissions to us."

Moeahu said leaders from Ngati Tama, Ngati Mutunga, Te Atiawa, Ngati Maru and Taranaki iwi could come together to form a council, or a paepae rangatira.

Christine Ammunson, of the Human Rights Commission, said the concept of an iwi representative body was being considered by other local bodies across New Zealand.

Ammunson pointed out the Rotorua District Council was currently working on a proposal that could give its local iwi, Te Arawa, a greater voice on its council and in its decision-making processes.

The proposal suggests a new Te Arawa board be established that would be separate from the council but would help the council in "promoting cultural, economic, environmental and social issues of significance for Maori".

Aroha Chamberlain, the New Plymouth District Council's manager of iwi relationships, said the proposal could help both the council and the iwi of Taranaki.

She believed Taranaki might end up with a Maori statutory board similar to the one in Auckland. "They have their own offices and create their own long-term plan and are funded directly from council," she said.

Mayor Andrew Judd said he had not heard of the proposal until the Taranaki Daily News contacted him yesterday.

"But if this is a way of engagement that would be meaningful to iwi, then I will support it," he said.

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